College Education on a Shoestring

Christopher and Hannah walked from their homeroom toward the outside door. "I can't believe Mrs. Thompson is talking to us about preparing for college already," Chris said looking puzzled. "We still have a long time to think about college."

"Yeah, but you know what they say about early birds and worms." Hannah stopped and hefted her book bag to her other shoulder.

"But we have a year and a half!" Chris exclaimed. He knelt down and shoved a book deeper into his bag. "I think there's plenty of time to choose a college."

"I'm trying to decide if I really need or want a college education." Hannah heaved a sigh. "Right now, I'm really tired of school. I'm thinking about taking a year off after grad to see where life takes me."

"But a guy's gotta have a good job," Chris said.

"A girl, too." Hannah smiled.

"I just don't know if four years of college would be worth the expense. College education isn't cheap."

"That's why I want to take a break." Hannah set her book bag down and donned her jacket. "You know what? I think we should get some advice. Why don't we make an appointment with Mr. Richards?"

"The guidance counselor? You want to talk to him?"

"Hey, we won't get detention for making an appointment." Hannah hefted her book bag onto her shoulder. "Come on. Let's go ask, although we probably can't see him until next week."

Hannah headed to the office, Chris following behind.

"Hello, Miss Melbourne," Hannah said. "Would we be able to talk to Mr. Richards any time soon?"

The woman at the front desk smiled. "Let me see." She pulled an appointment book from a desk drawer and opened it. "Mr. Richards can see you tomorrow afternoon at 4:00. Would that be okay?"

Chris's jaw dropped a little.

"Sure," Hannah said. "Thank you, Miss Melbourne. We'll see you tomorrow."

Chris shook his head and rubbed his chin.

"We might as well do it right away," Hannah whispered as they left the office. "You're all good." She winked at Chris. "Tomorrow evening your pain will be over."

Chris heaved a sigh.

The next afternoon when they came out of homeroom, Chris said, "Might as well wait in the office, right?" He rubbed his right palm down his shirt front and he held his backpack strap with a white-knuckled grip

At four, Miss Melbourne showed them into Mr. Richards' office.

Hannah eased her bag to the floor. "Chris and I are thinking about not going to college, Mr. Richards. Will the expense of a college education be worth the time and effort when we could begin working a lot sooner?"

"College is expensive," Mr. Richards agreed. "Remember, with a degree you'll get a better job after high school, but a more economical option would be to attend a community college."

"Even so, we couldn't hold a full-time job for four years," Chris said. "My mom's working herself to death already. I want to help out as soon as I can."

"That's understandable," Mr. Richards said. "You could get a job after graduation and take some college classes online. There are lots of online colleges―even Christian ones. Just Google 'Christian colleges -- online programs'.

"Another moneysaving idea is to take community college courses during high school summer vacations. You can complete one class every summer while working. My daughter did that. By the time she started attending a brick-and-mortar college, she had almost a full quarter's credits stashed away."

"Thank you, Mr. Richards." Chris nodded as they stood up together.

"Or you can complete a four-year online program. Credits from a reputable online college will transfer, too. Also, consider vocational/technical schools, if you feel you need to forego academics for a while. You could further your education after hours." Mr. Richards stood and as they shook hands, he said, "Be sure to research scholarships, too. You both have good grades."

"Thanks. You've given us plenty to think about." Chris turned and opened the door. Once outside, he exclaimed, "Wow, Hannah, that was helpful."

Hannah winked. "And no detention!"